San Diego Comic-Con International is about a lot of things. It’s about movies, TV shows, comics, books, and the fans that love them all. But this year, it’s also been about hats. Yes, that’s right: the things you put on your head to avoid glare, sunburn, or in this case, to signify your particular brand allegiance.
For whatever reason, promotional hats have been a minor trend at this year’s convention. So in the interests of science, I’m doing what needs to be done: evaluating my favorite hats of Comic-Con to determine which one can named the ultimate headwear champion.
Near Comic-Con, the FX Network has the latest iteration of its “FXhibition” – basically an assortment of activations, photo opportunities, and interactive installations, like the HoloLens immersive experience based on the Noah Hawley show Legion. But along with its water and sunscreen stations, FX is also giving away this branded visor.
As one would expect, it’s lightweight, and an elastic band on the back of the visor makes it a one-size-fits-all option for most people. (I usually need to hunt down bigger hats, myself, but the FX visor still fit the bill.) Given how much time people can spend outside in line at Comic-Con, the shaded panels also make it a nice option for shade without too much hassle. The gripe may come with what’s printed on the visor, however.
The FX catchphrase “Fearless” has a certain context when presented in commercials or print ads, but here it is presented boldly on the hat, with the FX name presented in much smaller type beside it. At a distance, it could give the impression that somebody is wearing a hat promotion the 1993 Peter Weir film. I’m a fan of Fearless, but it’s not the kind of movie that necessarily shouts “jaunty visor.”
Netflix leaned heavily on Stranger Things this year, and one of the items fans could track down was a branded hat based on the one worn by Gaten Matarazzo’s Dustin Henderson in the show. It’s a one-size-fits-all hat, featuring 60 percent cotton and 40 percent polyester, with the show’s famous logo emblazoned proudly on the white panel.
I’ll be honest: this cap feels a little cheap (it is a mesh cap, after all). But that’s almost exactly what makes it interesting in the first place. ‘80s hats like this often were cheap, and while one could say that the hat’s quality is due to a budget-conscious Netflix promotional department, there’s also an argument to be made that the quality just makes it more period-accurate.
Granted, that argument would probably fail, but you could still totally make it.
I’ve already written about HBO and Campfire’s Westworld: The Experience, and it continues to be one of my favorite things at Comic-Con. But one of the things I didn’t get into too much detail about were the hats themselves. As part of the experience, visitors are selected for either a white hat or a black hat after an informal emotional readiness evaluation.
The US-made hat is made by Serratelli, and features a 4-inch brim and was available in a number of different sizes, from small to extra large. When my group first received out hats, we were all surprised to find that they were actually real hats, not cheapie throwaways, and in terms of sun protection this almost certainly bests the previous two options. Unfortunately, Comic-Con probably isn’t the best place to run around with a cowboy hat on unless you’re doing some proper Westworld cosplay, but that doesn’t mean it’s not one of the hats to beat.
Okay, I know what you’re saying: the black hat is cooler because Mean Ed Harris was way better than Nice Guy Jimmi Simpson. I grant you that Harris’ Man in Black was a more entertaining character on a purely visceral level. But Simpson’s William — and his white hat — represented a more satisfying story arc. A person who wanted to see themselves as good and noble, fought hard to stay that way, but in the end found Westworld’s call of vengeance and murder too strong to ignore.
The white hat here doesn’t represent “the good guy.” It represents the potential to fall from grace, and the darkness hidden inside even those that consider themselves noble and virtuous. That makes the white hat an inherently richer choice — plus the shape of it just cuts a stronger profile than the black hat.
And then there’s the logo. Both the white and black Westworld hats feature the stamp of the park and parent company inside the brim, but the gold foil pairs much better with the off-white of this hat than it does with the black hat.
It’s been a tough battle. We’ve seen some mighty contenders on the heads of people walking the halls of Comic-Con. But in the end, there can be only one. And I hereby proclaim the Westworld white hat the best promotional hat of San Diego Comic-Con 2017.
Don’t agree? That’s okay, too. Feel free to vote below any time before Comic-Con ends on Sunday, and come back to discover who will win the Audience Choice Award!